Solo From the Start

Beginning your legal career as a solo attorney

When I talk to new attorneys, determining office arrangements is crucial and one we spend some time discussing. My path started with bartering for an office. I ran into several issues that made it a non-workable arrangement quickly. For instance, my exterior door led straight into my office and desk. Also, the conference room was available to me, but I had to walk through the cubicles of the other company. Both were confusing for clients and made bad impressions.

After the barter arrangement, I tried a virtual office and worked at home. Susan Cartier Liebel of Solo Practice University identifies these five problems when working from home and offers solutions for each, (1) You’re a ‘people person;’ (2) The Freshman 15 becomes the Home Office 15; (3) You work 24/7; (4) I love my kids, but …; and (5) Ugh. Did I remember to shower today?

My biggest problem was number 3. I always had this sense of being at work mingled with being at leisure. After a few months, I leased brick-and-mortar office space. Rent makes up the majority of my overhead but it has been critical for my productivity and happiness.

I have a sense of pride seeing my street sign and my name on my door. I love when friends or colleagues tell me they drove past my office. I love my office’s proximity to home and my daughter’s school. But most importantly, when I walk into my office, my brain shifts into work mode: I’m here at my desk and this is where I work. When I walk in my house, I’m done and that is where I relax.

Until I found my ideal workspace arrangement, my productivity suffered. Identify your needs in a workspace before you decide on an arrangement. Think about what was ineffective for you in other workplaces. List your ideas on paper and then experiment until you find what meets your needs.